January is all about cleaning house and I have long needed to clean out the bookshelf in my bedroom which holds dozens of copies of my manuscripts in various drafts. Finally, I trashed a huge load of the boxes, recycled some others, and stored only a handful of the remaining ones.
Among the papers I found some interesting folders filled with emails and letters I hadn’t seen in years. One folder was a collection of my rejection letters from agents, before I found the fabulous Faye Bender. The majority of the letters began, “Dear Author…” And followed with a highly impersonal, “Thank you for your query letter but we don’t want to read your book” sort of note. One agent even had a series of check boxes for why she wouldn’t read more. I think the box checked off on my letter was, “Premise did not suitably interest us” or something like that. A few requested some pages but those few were followed quickly with a, “Gee, we thought we’d like it but we didn’t” note.
There is a great (depending on whether you’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of these) blog called Literary Rejections on Display, which posts rejection letters from publishers, agents and magazine editors. I think most writers understand logically that not every agent is for every writer, just as not every book is for every reader. But when you get that impersonal “Dear Author” letter, you just want to scream, “Recognize me as an individual!” Sadly, the volume of query letters agents get prevents them from doing so. They just get so darn many of them, especially now that it’s easy-peasy to send off an email to a whole bunch of agents at one time. Imagine what you do multiplied by thousands.
Believe me, I know how it feels when you collect a number of these things. I was never so masochistic as to paper my walls with the rejection letters as other writers have done but I certainly did save them. I once imagined myself telling off these clueless agents once I found an agent of my own and sold a book but it never happened. I guess I had better things to do - like write.
And you know what? You will too.
Your Hollywood connection,